1. Randall Packer

    Identity Multiples

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    In the third space realm of fictional possibilities, we are role-playing ad infinitum. It is a marvelous game: playable anywhere with a connection, involving anyone in any place or sphere of the globe. The system is pervasive, the rules are nonexistent, the paradigms are there to be broken. If Artaud claimed nearly a century ago in the Theater and its Double, that the theater is a space for the alchemical transformation of everyday life, and that role-playing is a vehicle for inducing the magic of identity permutation, then in fact, our systems of social media constitute a vehicle for entry into the theatrical domain of magic and ritual. When no one quite knows who anyone else is in the mysterious realm of the third space, the possibilities are limitless. Behind the illusory facade of one’s avatar, lie endless branching narratives through the infinite strands of the database. Yes: you can be an artist posing as a military officer posing as an art mogul in the third space. Never mind if it makes any sense, that is the power of theater and the alchemical properties of the imagination. And from the iconic wonder of a multi-layered avatar comes serious play, where politically-charged critique can take down the entire establishment in one fell swoop. That is the power of the theater and in the age of global media (please excuse the cliché), all the world’s a stage. The difference between Shakespeare’s time and the current state of things is that an extraordinary […]
  2. Randall Packer

    Micro-project 1: Video Double

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    Due: Tuesday, January 20

    Video Double:  Using your smart phone, create an approximately one minute video double of yourself that constructs your "artistic alter ego." Choose a location that you find best expresses this constructed sense of identity: studio, campus, apartment, park, café, garden, etc. Do not write a script or edit your piece, although you can shoot more than one take, picking the best one. Be sure you are in the video, though it doesn’t need to be a traditional headshot. You can be walking, standing, working, sitting, or lying down. Consider any ambient noise, background movement, etc. to be part of the composition and the setting. The goal of the project is to spontaneously and improvisationally create a sense of an imaginary double in video form. The project asks the following questions: How can video be used to alter identity? How might video be used to conceal identity? How do the objects that surround you create a mutable identity? When the video introduction is completed, embed it in a blog post on your Wordpress site, and give the post a title. Include a short text description (one or two sentences) as a "caption" for the video, that concisely or enigmatically describes who you are (or imagine yourself to be) in the video.
  3. Randall Packer

    Micro-project 2: The Collective Body

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    Due Tuesday, January 28

    The Collective Body: We will create a "collective body" made up of all of our body parts randomly reassembled and reconfigured into a single composite body. Using a smart phone or digital camera, shoot ten photographs of yourself close-up: eye, mouth, nose, foot, hand, shoulder, etc.  Transfer the images to Flicker and load them into the 'Open Source Studio NTU' Flickr group. Over the course of the week the collective body will take shape, and each time the Flickr feed page is visited, the body will be randomly reconfigured, creating a near infinite number of possibilities. How does this project alter the way we think about the body as a malleable figure? How does the project allow us to rethink the human figure in the digital age, when the authenticity of the image has been subverted through manipulation. How might we think about the body as a "collective" entity, made up not as a single individual, but as a composite of selves. And finally how does the composite body reflect on the "deeply intertwingled" nature of social media: the intertwining of identities and relationships?
  4. Randall Packer

    Micro-project 4: Media Addiction

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    Due: Tuesday, February 11 Twitter is often referred to as “micro-blogging,” in which short texts are written in 140 characters or less. This has resulted in a form of writing that is quick, immediate, and spontaneous. In this assignment, we are creating a form of “micro-theater,” in which we will role play via Twitter, assuming a Twitter / avatar-identity through which we will interact with one another through improvised exchanges. Building on the Video Double project, we will assume an identity (use the same one if you like), engaging between our characters through micro-conversation, micro-gesture, micro-action: a form of micro-theater. Yet, unlike traditional theater, our micro-theater will be distributed across the network in the third space, our interaction will be asynchronous, without the need for simultaneity or real-time exchange. The subject matter of our micro-drama will be: “media addiction.” Imagine a world in which we no longer communicate face-to-face, where all exchanges are mediated, where we prefer to be remote participants in our own social lives. (It’s not hard to imagine!) And why? Because we are addicted to media, we prefer to communicate telematically via our devices because it is safer, easier, and perhaps even more inventive. Now, situate yourself in a world of addictive media with other addictive students, using the #ossntu hashtag as a kind of symbol of your collective addiction. (You can ask other friends to join us using the #ossntu hashtag). Don’t force it, you already live (at least partly) in this “addictive” world, so it […]
  5. Randall Packer

    Identity Multiples

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    Week 5: February 11 - 17 (Adobe Connect)

    A discussion of identity construction and character formation in performance: the notion of the double, the avatar, and the narcissistic lure of the alter ego. An in depth look at historical and contemporary role-playing in online environments: MUDs, MOOs, Second Life, the Palace, hypertextual fiction, game strategies, e-life, and other forms of text-based and graphical desktop theater. We will study works and forms that include choreographic and gestural works in virtual space, as well as social media and networked relations between active performer-participants assuming multiple identities and character. We will explore the psychological dimensions of “life on the screen,” including the effects of multi-tasking, the confusion of identity, alienation, aloneness, fragmentation, and addiction.
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